THE Manila Police District has started augmenting the security around the United States Embassy in Manila following the discovery of an improvised bomb near the compound along Roxas Boulevard on Monday.
Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa, who described the attempt to bomb the embassy as “an attempted act of terrorism,” also released an artist’s sketch of the suspect who allegedly left the improvised explosive device.
“This is the face of the suspect. Check if you have a neighbor who looks like him and please, report it immediately. We still do not know his name, only his face,” Dela Rosa said in a press briefing at Camp Karingal in Quezon City.
He described the suspect as being around 44 to 45 years old, about 5’5” tall, weighing close to 60 to 65 kilos, and with a fair complexion.
More members of the MPD were seen patrolling in front of the embassy Monday night.
A police mobile unit was also on standby a few meters away from the embassy.
Checkpoints around Metro Manila have also been intensified due to the possibility that members of the Maute group, which President Rodrigo Duterte said is allied with the Islamic State, are in Metro Manila.
Dela Rosa had said that the Maute group could be behind the foiled bombing, saying the bomb had the same signature as the one used by the group to blow up a night market in Davao City in September.
Dela Rosa added that Monday’s foiled embassy attack could be a diversionary tactic for Maute fighters who are battling government troops in Butig, Lanao del Sur.
The IED was composed of an 81-mm mortar, a 9-volt battery and a cellphone, was found in a trash can by a street sweeper.
The MPD bomb squad was able to detonate the IED in less than an hour.
Hours after the discovery of the IED, the US Embassy issued a statement thanking the PNP for its quick response.
Police believe that the people who planted an improvised explosive device near the US Embassy were still in Metro Manila.
“Most probably they are still here [in Metro Manila],” National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) director Chief Superintendent Oscar Albayalde said.
Albayalde said efforts are ongoing to locate the person who planted the IED found near the US Embassy.
He said the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and intelligence units of other law enforcement agencies are helping in this effort.
“Yes, we have coordinated with the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” said Albayalde.
The NCRPO chief also said they are asking for footage from CCTV cameras installed at the US Embassy and nearby establishments.